Music Reviews

Artist: Man eats fish
Title: Recollective
Format: Download Only (MP3 + Lossless)
Label: Audiobulb (@)
Rated: *****
This new release from Audiobulb is presented as 'characterized by concrete sounds with a lot presence, combined with abstract electronic texture and newly written and recorded works for string quartet'. It's a true presentation of this work that features a strong coherence of musical development.
The metallic beat of 'The Breakdown' opens this release with a track focused on the juxtaposition of the synth drones and the metallic resonances that, in 'Between Sound', are basic composition's element while 'All That Is Solid Melts Into Air' explores the melodic possibilities of the metallic beat. The gentle theme of 'Duality', upon the water's dripping acts as an interlude, or a development, of a form that is the unifying element of this release. 'Reconstruction (The Silent Duck)' could sounds as a chamber music track if the sounds of a metallic balls falling on the ladder, almost present in all tracks, doesn't appears. The violins of 'The Doors' introduce the listener into the second part of this release and, with 'Material', appear even the human voice to further colorize the musical palette. 'Just Beens' sounds like a small intro to the final part of this release: 'Birds', that starts and ends as a noisy track but has an interlude based on gentle strings samples that are the foundation of 'The Arrival'. 'Corridor Slow' closes this release developing the resonances of the string instruments used in the previous tunes.
This release sounds more like a cohesive unit than a collection of track and, even if it's anything truly impressive, it's a release that acts as a quiet soundscape of everyday activities. A nice release.
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Artist: Dronny Darko
Title: Outer Tehom
Format: CD
Label: Cryo Chamber (@)
Rated: *****
This album is described as a 'drone album of darkest black, every track a perfect 13 minute summoning of elder gods forgotten in time'. Without any info this release could be described as a release as carefully constructed as void of any other goal that being a milestone in form construction.
The heavy and atmospheric drone of 'Black Arts' opens this release and is based upon his opposition to almost pure silence and isolated sounds and samples. The same musical development is the foundation of 'Mortal Skin' where the variations are so subtle but so constant that could be ignored by distracted ears. 'Snake Hole' depicts a soundscape of frightening beauty while 'Arcane Shrine' returns to more canonic dark ambient resonances well described with the statue depicted in the album cover.
This release is hard to rate as it's as beautifully sounding as admonishing to be a pure exercise of form. However, how could art be afraid of beauty? This release will be truly appreciated by fans of this genre.
Artist: Museum of Devotion (@)
Title: Another Cold Wave
Format: CD EP
Label: Infrastition (@)
Rated: *****
Museum of Devotion is an Electro-industrial band from Ann Arbor, Michigan, consisting of James Cooper on vocals, guitar, keyboards and Robert Anderson on lead guitar, bass guitar and keyboards. Their first album, '...To the Pink Period' goes back to 1988. Then they were a kind of marginally interesting minimal Cold Wave band reminiscent of Joy Division, New Order and The Swans. A cult band to be sure. They've has a couple releases since then (haven't heard 'em) and now they've come up their latest, an EP titled 'Another Cold Wave'. Whatever charm they may have had "back in the day" has been completely lost on this one.

It starts out okay with a nice synth bass and drum groove on "Closer" (say, wasn't that the title of Joy Division's second album?) but then you get electronically processed vocals that lack any melodic interest whatsoever. The production is rather a mess too. The processing can't hide the off-key vocals and pretentious lyrics "..."closer to eternity... " are a real eye-roller. It only gets worse on "Lucky Charm". A driving beat and okay minimal synth but again the over-processed vocals and awful lyrics- " corsage in a pickup truck in the dark somewhere...don't even try said the man in black, if you fake the ride, you'd better walk the line." What the...? Even the aged Don McClean would be shaking his head in disbelief. I know they're really trying for a New Order kind of thing here, but guys, IT'S NOT WORKING! Adding in female vocals at the end doesn't help it any. Still, the song chugs on not realizing that it's a trainwreck. "Forgotten" manages to simultaneously incorporate the main riff from New Order's Temptation" and Depeche Mode's "Just Can't Get Enough". Not note-for-note, but too close for comfort. Other elements of the song are just a mess. Vocals buried beneath scads of processing, a wall of synth and/or guitar distortion, you can barely distinguish a verse from a chorus. Throwing in a few notes from DM's "Dreaming of Me" doesn't help either. Jeez, write something original already. Once again, female backing vocals can't save this. Final track, "The Trees" begins with a shoegazey ambience then rhythm with that (nearly) trademark New Order staccato bass, and a spritely melody from a synth with steel drum preset. Wordless vocals by an uncredited woman, a brief recitation about trees by a little girl. It's actually better than I make it sound; it's kind of bright and happy. Although the track is slight, it saves this EP from being a total disaster. You know I just have to scratch my head and wonder...why? The potential is there, somewhere. Better songwriting is the key. And cut back on that god-awful processing on the vocals. If you're going to do Cold Wave, either modern or retro, you need something melodically memorable that wasn't lifted from elsewhere.
Artist: Ocoeur (@)
Title: A Parallel Life
Format: CD
Label: n5MD (@)
Rated: *****
Ocoeur is French composer/sound artist Franck Zaragoza and 'A Parallel Life' is his third release since 2010, this one comprised of five tracks. This is my first exposure to Ocoeur, which loosely translated means "to the heart". Ocoeur's modus operandi is kind is a fusing of techno, IDM, glitch and ambient. On an initial listen to 'A Parallel Life' I found some tracks absolutely fascinating and others rather boring. "Universe" is a fine introduction to Ocoeur's sound palette with a glitch percussion track playing off a gentle, repetitive ambient-esque melodic sequence with a sub-bass drone undercurrent. "L'horlogue" unfolds a simple synth melody over slightly off kilter rhythm with a constant chordal synth pad in the background. "First Highway" is spacious chordal synth pads juxtaposed with crackling and staticy elements driven by a provocative techno-like rhythm. More light melodic elements are added as the piece shapes into melodic techno. This is Ocoeur at its best here; nice changes and shifting sonics keeping it interesting. "Kofski" was the first track I didn't much care for. A slow, repetitive, tremeloed synth chordal progression morphs through some slight distortion then ends with sweet strings. "Ostz" begins with higher string harmonics and a minimal bass-oriented rhythm track gradually bringing in glitchy percussion. A variety of other synth elements are introduced, some melodic, some percussive...the rhythm ceases for a spell, then returns. Quite engaging and somewhat complex. "North" has an intricate yet subdued glitch percussion track punctuated with a low tone while muted, cloudy synth tones play over it. Bellish synth chords emerge occasionally, but the whole is a heavenly exercise in the sublime, until the heavy chordal sequence at the conclusion. You definitely get the impression Mr. Zaragoza has studied the works of Aphex Twin and Brian Eno after this one. The title track is up next, and this is without a doubt the strangest track on the album. Describing the elements would take way too long, but suffice to say that it incorporates nearly every element in the Ocoeur arsenal. It isn't always pleasant, but it does have its own peculiar fascination. "Beyond Infinite" takes a long time to build with a muted low chordal progression, glitchy elements and complimentary higher muted synth tone with the occasional percussive thud that morphs into something more rhythmic. Very nice! Final track, "Red" is all heavenly synth pads and a track full of static noise. Perhaps a fitting end to the album, but I found it disappointing. Still, there is enough on 'A Parallel Life' that makes it worthy. Available from n5MD in CD, MP3 and FLAC, or if you prefer, LP in black, or (uber limited) transparent blue. Since the LP track-list is a bit different than the CD it comes with a download card so you can download the full album.
Artist: Origami Galaktika (@)
Title: One
Format: CD
Label: Monochrome Vision (@)
Rated: *****
It never ceases to amaze me, all the electronic artists who have been releasing music for years and years that I've never even heard of. Such is the case with Origami Galaktika, the project name of one Benny Braaten from Norway. He's been at it since 1996 with 13+ releases to his credit, 'One' being the 13th. Since I haven't heard any of the other works I have no basis of comparison, but I can tell you that the music is experimental-ambient. 'One' is comprised of 8 tracks, most of them very different sounding. "Full Moon Blue Mirror" introduces a ringing tone over a watery element with spacious slightly dark ambient drone that increases in intensity as it moves forward. Sort of like exploring arctic underwater caves if such a thing is possible. "Ground and Open the Receptors" begins with a high pitched echoed keening tone offset by a low, moaning textured drone giving the impression of something avian flying over a vast wasteland. That low moaning drone seems to morph into processed bowed cellos and/or basses. "The Beautiful Wonders and Dimensions of Creation" has thick, processed, echoed low drone tones with a hint of the industrial...and then a strange echoed noise squall is added. Layers of harmonically rich echoed overtones are added as it treads into industrial noise territory, until it all gradually fades away. Track 4, "Clearing of Spaces" is radically different. Low, lumbering, rhythmic thumping and thudding like some primitive farm machine. "Slowly, but Perfect and Surely" features episodic waves of medium to low harmonic noise that ebb and flow. It shifts into something more choppy, then introduces higher harmonic tones intermittently. Some of these tones are high pitched squeaks and squawks. Other sonic elements come into play as well. A strange brew to be sure. "In the Heartroom- Movement is Everything/Homecoming" plays with different pitches of elongated low, heavily processed cello-like tones, intermittently interuptped by higher echoed tones gradually morphed by changing the echo time and intensity. The lower tones disappear leaving only the higher ones, then reprise a bit later as a slight undercurrent. Other more percussive echoed elements are added as the higher tones have faded away. "Bright White Light of Love, 300' K's pr. Second" utilizes brief, melodic echoed tones (pizzicato,like a struck stringed instrument) and a variety of effected sounds. At a point it almost seems to coalesce into an echo-rhythm. "Memories of Tibet" features the sound of dharma trumpets (those long Tibetan horns) over incidental background sounds of unknown origin and eventually a muted hand-drum rhythm for a brief period. Okay, well that's it. 'One' enigmatic listen to be sure. I liked some parts more than others and likely you may too. The fact that Benny has been working for nearly 20 years in his field certainly accounts for quite a bit. This may be more sophisticated than I'm giving credit for, and perhaps in a month or two my impressions of the work might be different. If you're up for something challenging in the experimental-ambient genre, 'One' could be just the ticket.
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